When Suttons Bay resident Ryan Tiderington got the casting call, it was like a scene out of a movie.
“Somebody called me from Chicago and told me to come down for ‘Autumn Frost.’ That’s the code name for the film,” Tiderington said of the latest installment of the Superman saga, “Man of Steel.”
The Warner Brothers film, which debuts in theaters June 14, stars Henry Cavill as Superman. Tiderington, who is a spot-on image of Cavill, made the 300-mile trip for the casting to play the stand-in for Cavill.
He got the part.
There were two casting calls for the 2011 filming. The first included a background check to, “obviously make sure you’re not a crazy person,” Tiderington noted; and the second casting took him deeper into the various film departments.
During the second casting call, Tiderington had to go before the film’s cinematographer, director of photography and hair & makeup in order to earn the role. The response among the cast and crew was the same, including Cavill.
“Cavill walked in and we could have been brothers,” said the blue-eyed, dark hair Tiderngton who stands at 6’3”. “Everyone kept saying that. We looked exactly the same.”
There was one difference between the two, however, that Tiderington himself noticed.
“When I saw Henry, I knew I had to get in better shape,” he recalled.
So Tiderington turned to his favorite up-north water sport: standup paddle boarding.
STAND-UP TO STAND-IN
Having discovered the recreational sport as an outlet after going through a “horrible breakup” (yes, Superman’s stand-in is single), the level 2 certified Paddle Fit Pro instructor was already spending hours each week on the water, conducting daily paddleboard classes in Traverse City and Suttons Bay.
“I was already in pretty good shape but I started paddle boarding even more,” Tiderington said, adding he put on extra pounds of muscle through the on-water exercise and through refining his diet. “I ate pure, whole ingredients from the earth. Nothing formulated or manufactured. No sugar, no salt.”
Even when filming commenced, the crew was treated with healthy food options.
“The food was incredible. Everyone was healthy-minded so the food was five-star. It was unbelievable to wake up and eat sushi for breakfast. I could do that everyday,” he said.
For three months, Tiderington and the rest of the crew spent hours filming “Man of Steel” in the quiet, rural town of Aurora, Illinois, along with areas of downtown Chicago.
“It was brutal. You’re there every day, all day, for 11 to 12 hours and the heat was astounding,” Tiderington recalled of the hot 2011 summer temps. “There were some intense situations, too, like being under an overpass in 90-degree heat with Kevin Costner, helping him warm up his voice. That can be quite intimidating.”
Intense can be another word to describe the actual film.
“It’s darker,” Tiderington described of what could be called the sixth major motion picture release of the franchise since Christopher Reeve starred in 1978’s “Superman: The Movie.”
Just as producer Christopher Nolan did with the Batman series (“Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight,” etc.), the new film’s director, Zack Snyder (“Watchmen,” “300”) created a loose backstory with “Man of Steel”— offering a background on how Superman came to be and how he comes to embrace the costume and cape. (Due to confidentiality contracts, Tiderington couldn’t discuss the iconic superhero costume he got to wear during filming).
The estimated $175 million budgeted film also stars four-time Oscar nominee, Amy Adams as Daily Planet journalist Louis Lane; Laurence Fishburne, of “The Matrix” series, as Perry White; Diane Lane (“Unfaithful”) as Martha Kent (i.e. Clark Kent’s adoptive mother); and not one, but two Academy Award winners starring as Superman/Clark Kent’s fathers: Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Russell Crowe as Jore-El, from the home planet of Krypton.
The combination of talent, time and artistic direction made filming “Man of Steel” one of Tiderington’s most intense and memorable experiences.
“There are some moments in life that happen and you look back on it and say, ‘Wow, that changed me.’ It’s like a car accident, accept you don’t really remember,” he said. “During filming, I remember standing next to a train that was destroyed and all crumpled up and it looked like it had been tossed into a building. I was listening to the Talking Heads and one line was, ‘This is not my beautiful wife, this is not my beautiful life.’ “It was then I understood this was an important thing I was a part of.”
A GOOD KIND OF KRYPTONITE
After all the intensity of filming, Tiderington said he could always count on Northern Michigan to re-center himself.
“Once I’d pull off of M-37 and head down M-22, I just get this good feeling. After all the places I’ve been, I know I’m home,” said Tiderington, who grew up in Saginaw but would visit Northern Michigan every summer with his family. “My favorite spot is Good Harbor Bay.” Tiderington will also star in a film which will be shot this fall at the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. The movie is based off the Nirvana song, “Where Did You Sleep last Night?” While he has starred in over 18 films and music videos, which included a role as a drug addict (talk about a “Super” leap!), the Western Michigan University grad said he’s enjoying his time now instructing others on a very important element in his life.
“I’m working hard with the group Uncommon Adventures and just spreading the word on paddle boarding,” Tiderington concluded. “It’s important to teach people on being with nature and how calming it can be.
“We often lose track of what counts in life.” Seems like a very human trait, Ryan – one Superman would agree with.
Ryan Tiderington, who serves as Superman’s double in “Man of Steel” (in theaters June 14), will be conducting paddleboard classes from 7-8:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting June 1, at Clinch Park Beach in Traverse City; along with classes in Suttons Bay every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Participants will also have the opportunity to get their own body of steel with Paddle Fitness, an intense type of beach exercise. Visit uncommonadv. com/sup for more information.